Backgrounds to English Literature
Brother Anthony (An Sonjae)
Spring Semester 2000
Monday, Wednesday, Friday 11:00

This course is intended to help students discover Greek and Roman philosophy, history, mythology, art, and literature, and the Bible with a history of Judaism and the beginning of the Christian Church, so that they can appreciate them and also understand the ways in which these combine to form the background to Western culture.

Lectures will be in English. There will usually be a lecture on Monday and Wednesday; Friday's class will often take the form of small-group discussions and presentations when students will present the results of their reading and research.

Assignments: Each student will prepare two scrapbooks or a Home Page containing the pictures detailed in the boxes below, each picture being accompanied by a short explanatory text. The source of each picture is to be shown. (Visit Brother Anthony's list of Classical links)
    Each student will write two reports, as detailed below, one for the Monday after the Mid-term exams, the second for the Monday after the Final exams.
    To avoid misunderstandings, please note that any portions of text downloaded from the Web must be clearly indicated as such, with the source.

The main text book will be the new edition of Brother Anthony's Classical and Biblical Backgrounds to Western Literature(Sogang University Press).

Week 1 History of Ancient Civilizations (no class Wednesday)
Week 2 The Greek gods; Illiad and Odyssey
Week 3 History of Greece, Athens
Week 4 Philosophers before Socrates
Week 5 Socrates, Plato, Aristotle
Week 6 Drama : The Oresteia, Prometheus; Oedipus, Antigone (no class Wednesday)
Week 7 Mid-term Exams
Week 8  Myths (no class Good Friday)
Week 9 History of the Roman Empire
Week 10 Roman writers : Virgil, Ovid (no class Friday)
Week 11 The Old Testament
Week 12 (40th Anniversary week) The Old and New Testaments
Week 13 The Gospels and Paul
Week 14 The early Church
Week 15 Christian writers
Week 16 Final Exams

Class preparation and Friday discussion topics

The Page Numbers refer to the New Edition of the textbook

Week 1: Pages 7 - 30 Early civilisations

Week 2:  Pages 153 - 164 The Greek gods  Pages 31 - 54 Illiad and Odyssey
Topics for discussion : What are the characteristic features of the gods? In what sense are Priam and Achilles 'heroic'? Is Odysseus heroic or comic or both? How do you interpret the way the reunited couple react at the end?

Week 3: Pages 59 - 72 History of Greece, Athens
Topic for discussion: What were the main steps in the development of Athenian democracy? Was it a good system, a limited one, a bad one? Compare Athens with Sparta: where would you rather have lived? Why?

Week 4:  Pages 73 - 87 Philosophy before Socrates
Topic for discussion: What developments of the notion of god, cosmos, man do you find? How did philosophy develop toward science and theory? Why do people still study Pre-Socratic Philosophy?

Week 5: Pages 88 - 104 Socrates, Plato, Aristotle
Topics for research and discussion: What were Socrates' main concerns? What are the main ideas in the Phaedo, Symposium, Republic? In what main ways did Aristotle differ from Plato? Was Plato a better philosopher than Aristotle? Why do people still study them?

Week 6: Pages 105 - 144 Greek Drama & Lyric Poetry
The Oresteia and Prometheus Bound, Oedipus and Antigone
Topic for discussion: What is a 'tragedy'? What motivates the main characters? What message do the plays give? What picture do they give of the gods and of human life?

Week 7: Mid-term Exams
Subjects for the first part of the Scrapbookhome page
(Due on the day of the Mid-term Exam)
1. Ancient civilisations: Stonehenge, Babylon, Egyptian pyramids, Egyptian sculpture. 
2. Writing systems: Cuneiform writing, Egyptian hieroglyphics, Hebrew and Greek alphabets. 
3. Myths and art: Statues of the major gods, paintings inspired by Greek myths, statues of personifications...
4. Greek art: Greek theater; Greek sculpture before 480 BC, the Parthenon and its sculptures, other temples, a Grecian Urn, the "Venus de Milo". Busts of the great Greek philosophers and writers....
First Report: What are some of the main themes found in Greek literature and philosophy? What attitude to nature, to human life? To the gods? 
Which work have you found most worth reading? Why?

Week 8: Pages 165 - 188 Myths and tales of men and gods
Topic for discussion :  What kind of gods do the Greek myths describe? What image of human life?

Weeks 9 -10 Pages 189 - 222 Rome
Topic for research & discussion How does Cicero's text challenge today's society? What do you think about his ideas? What are the main ideas of Stoicism, Cynicism, and Epicureanism? What was the reason for the enduring influence of Rome in European culture?

Weeks 11 - 12: Pages 223 - 262 The Old Testament

Weeks 12 - 13: Pages 263 - 294 The New Testament
Topic for discussion: What is meant by the words Apocalypse, eschaton, kerygma, ekklesia, anastasis, koinonia? What did New Testament writers understand by Agape? What is the main Christian message?

Weeks 14 - 15: Pages 295 - 318 The Early Church
Topic for discussion: How and why do you think Christianity become the official religion of the later Roman Empire? How was it changed in the process? Was it still true to the teaching of Jesus? Why were Augustine and Boethius so important?
Subjects for second part of Scrapbook / home page
Due on the Monday of the 15th Week of the semester (June 5)
1. Rome: the Forum, the Pantheon, the Colosseum, the Senate House, the Capitol... 
2. Judaism: Mt Sinai, Jerusalem in Old Testament times, the Temple, nomadic life in the Middle East, a Jewish synagogue, the Hebrew Bible, modern Judaism, the Holocaust... 
3. New Testament: The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (and site of Calvary, in Jerusalem), the Mount of Olives, River Jordan... 
4. Church history: The  tomb of St Peter, the Catacombs, early Christian art, the great basilicas in Rome, the first monasteries, the oldest manuscripts of the New Testament...
Second Report: Summarize what you see as the main steps in the evolution of the European (Graeco-Roman and Judeo-Christian combined) concepts of the nature of the divine, of human identity, and of nature, and of the relationship between them. What has become of those concepts today? For you?

Grading: The two reports and the two exams (Mid-term and Final) will have equal value. All correctly made scrapbooks and home pages will receive equal credit but a few additional points will be given for particularly well-designed Home Pages, and for particularly neat scrapbooks.

If you have questions you may write to Brother Anthony or visit him in his office (X109)